Really important Ed note: If you teach my child, please don’t read this until after Christmas. Or maybe not at all unless you want to know exactly what you’re getting from us and exactly what it cost and then think I’m a cheapskate and possibly strain our really wonderful relationship. Please. Cause it would so suck if you found out that the awesome sterling silver apple charm I gave you was only six bucks. I’m begging. Go check out Suri’s Burn Book. Trust me. It’s hilarious. I’ll see you tomorrow.
This time of year, friends often ask for ideas on how to honor the people in their children’s lives. And it’s a tricky business, this gift giving – on a lot of levels. While in some cases a pony probably wouldn’t be nearly sufficient to show our gratitude, most of us don’t have the means, nor is it really appropriate, to buy lavish gifts for teachers.
But then what does one do for that one teacher who has been not just willing but eager to step outside of the box and meet your kiddo exactly where he is? Or for that art teacher who unlocked something in your baby and made him feel special like no one else could? Or the custodian who found a way to connect with your girl?
Between my two girls, there are eighteen teachers, aides, therapists and various and sundry other angels who make it onto our Christmas list.
And if Katie had her way, there would be many more. I finally drew the line at ‘that really nice lady who comes in every other week, but I don’t remember her name.’ Um, no.
But with eighteen on our list (not to mention another twenty seven for whom I create a favor at the aide appreciation luncheon), I’ve gotten pretty good at this. Or maybe I haven’t. Maybe our gifts actually suck. I guess that’s possible, but people do seem pretty appreciative. Ya know, of our appreciation. Cause it’s nice to be appreciated. OK, this is going nowhere. Moving on.
So since people ask so often, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite gift ideas. It’s sort of like Oprah’s favorite things except that I’m not giving you any of them and well, you can get them yourself anyway cause I think the most expensive one is $13. So maybe it’s really not much like Oprah’s favorite things at all. Though I’d like to think she’d like them.
Ed note: Please note that I do NOT receive compensation in any way, shape, nor form from any of the manufacturers listed below or anyone else for that matter. And that’s probably for the best because if I did, someone would be getting a pony.
Last point and then I’ll shut up and post the gift ideas, I promise … Friends often ask if we get the same thing for everyone in order to keep it ‘fair’. The answer is a resounding no. While there are people that I give something to as a matter of course, there are others who deserve far more. That person who speaks up in a team meeting? The one who eschews the talking points in favor of real dialogue about my kid? The one who send e-mails in the evening because she ‘had a thought about something that might be helpful for Brooke’? Yeah, they’re getting the pony.
So here goes. A couple of my favorites: (In most cases, click on the picture to link)
These monogrammed mugs from Anthropologie were my bonanza this year. I adore them. Each initial comes in a different color combination, so they look very different from one another. I think they’re really pretty, have that touch of personalization and .. best part, I think they look like a $20 gift but cost $8. And if you want extra credit, you can fill them with candy, homemade small cookies or even quotes. I bought eleven of these this year. #Winning.
Katie made these next two at our local bead shop.
The one above is for her fabulous art teacher – the same teacher who encouraged us to bring Brooke to the after-school art class this year. The same one who taught my little perfectionist that mistakes can be wonderful. The same one who leads the charge during inclusion week every year. Yeah, that one. (Sorry about the photo. Took it with my phone.)
Let’s just say she’d definitely be getting a pony.
And this one is for her classroom teacher ..
In the one above you can see the full ribbon. It simply ties in a bow to make a choker. And it’s lovely, don’t you think? Best part? Shhh – they cost less than $5 each.
Now this next one I know was a hit last year when I gave it as the favor for the inclusion lunch. I’m positive, because a couple of the aides still mention it, and not to tell me how crappy it was. So I think they liked it. I didn’t actually purchase the one in the picture, but instead printed out copies of the poem on nice white paper and framed them myself. Thanks to a local discount store (Marshall’s and TJ Maxx are great resources), I was able to put them together for about $6 each.
This year’s favor took some creativity since we nearly doubled the number of people we honored at the lunch. In thinking about what to get, I found myself stuck on angels. These people are, in so many cases, guardian angels to our kids. So I googled angels and found these adorable little bookmarks..
and wrote these to go with them ..
As long as we’re on angels, I’ll stick to the theme. I am in love with the Willow Tree Angels. They’re sold online and in every Hallmark Paper Store. They run between $8 and $30 with most around $13. This is the one that Brooke chose for her utterly fabulous ‘helper teacher’ this year.
They just melt my heart.
Speaking of melting (groan), we thought these made a lovely little token for the assistants in Katie’s class …
And at $4.50 they ain’t gonna break the bank.
This next one was a bit of a splurge, but I thought they were just too perfect not to get for Brooke’s adaptive PE teacher ..
They’re sneakers! Isn’t that sorta fabulous? But thanks to the fancy packaging and the Williams Sonoma name, they’re $12. I wonder if they have them at the candy shop. Hmm. Might be a more economical way to go.
I know it’s probably a little cheezy, but I’ve always liked the apple-for-the-teacher theme. There’s the sterling silver necklace …
.. which sure as heck doesn’t look like it cost $6, does it?
Or the ornament ..
.. which maybe sort of does look like it cost $3.99. but it’s still really cute, no?
Last but not least, a couple of really great ideas from friends. This one is from my friend, Carrie and I think it’s fabulous ..
It’s $8 for a 5×7 print or $4 for a bookmark.
And this from my friend, Mom-NOS ..
Adorable measuring spoons. What teacher doesn’t want to hear that they have just the right recipe for your child’s success? There’s a minimum order on this particular one, but at $1.75 a piece, it might not hurt to stock up. They make great stocking-stuffers too.
Lastly, I love that these are personalized. Like the mugs, you could fill them with candy or homemade cookies, or inspirational quotes that the teacher could pull out every day. Nothing like starting your day with a little Gandhi reminding you to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
These have a pretty high minimum, but at $1.37 all in, it’s probably well worth stocking them. You can also get them singly at most craft shops, but the price will be much higher.
I’m out of time, but I hope these ideas are helpful. If nothing else maybe they’ll lead you to some other ideas of your own. I just know that this time of year when we’re swimming upstream on so many levels, it can be tough to think straight. That said, the most important thing to remember is that there’s nothing that means more than the gratitude behind the gift. So please don’t feel pressured to buy anything. A heartfelt note means no less – and often far more – than anything bought in a store.
Besides, ponies kinda smell.
I’d love to hear your gift ideas in the comments!